Navigating the complex world of start-ups requires a very different set of skills. Who would be more acquainted with this skill-set than those who have been there… done that? Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, a popular media-tech platform and T.N. Hari, adviser and mentor to numerous young entrepreneurs and start-ups, get together to provide a unique insight into the world of start-ups in the book Cut the Crap and Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up Trenches, published by Penguin.
The advice given in Cut the Crap and Jargon comes from a deep understanding of the real issues on the ground. One of the authors is an entrepreneur and the other has worked closely with entrepreneurs. They are well versed with small pitfalls that entrepreneurs must avoid lest it lead to a long term problem. They are also conversant with complex navigational skills that a budding entrepreneur needs to negotiate his way through this exciting but arduous journey.
A key aspect makes the book different from other books on management- it recognizes that sometimes hindsight analysis cannot give all solutions to prevent problems. Most books on management analyse big business giants who have either succeeded or failed. They then draw conclusions and generalise these. However, here the authors have followed a different approach. They question if such a strategy is actually useful for start-ups who have a completely different set of problems. Here is where the book actually scores.
It dives into the world of start-ups and looks for the smaller mistakes or smaller decisions that go on to have a larger impact in the journey of the start-up. This is what makes this specific book relevant for start-ups. The book caters to a global audience but there is also specific information tailored to the Indian scenario.
There are several assumptions that the book makes which works well in its handling of issues related to start-ups. For instance, the requirements of agility, necessity to pivot in some cases, constant work on a shoestring budget and so on.
For all of us interested in start-ups, the mad rush for funding and the sheer hype surrounding the funding scenario can be quite difficult to understand. One of the interesting chapters, The Funding Craze takes an unbiased look at this so called circus of funding and presents an informed picture of the scenario.
The insights on bootstrapping versus external funding are also very relevant. The book devotes substantial space to understanding the dynamics of funding and valuation of start-ups, often taking a dig at the hypes created in the process. It gives a realistic portrayal of the scenario in India as well as helpful tips to understanding this aspect.
A lot of examples make the reading very relatable. The authors use famous start-ups as examples to illustrate the case they make at different points in the book. The information is presented in a variety of ways- interviews with an expert in a particular domain, as a case study or simple narrative with examples aplenty. This makes it easier for the reader to navigate through.
Having the right team is most crucial for a start-up. The book provides an understanding into the process of hiring, leadership, communication with team members, giving feedback and well, even firing! Right from hiring correctly, scaling up after starting up, the changing role of founders as the organisation grows and key habits that entrepreneurs need to have, Cut the Crap and Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up trenches, is a guide those who are involved with start-ups.
Cut the Crap and Jargon: Lessons from the Start-up Trenches
Penguin Random House India (1 October 2017)